Mega trial lawyer Mark Geragos is suing Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti over the county’s stay-at-home order, alleging the directive has caused a substantial drop in his law firm’s business and income.
Five separate lawsuits were filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court over the mayor’s executive order. The first was filed on Thurday, and four additional complaints were filed Friday morning.
Geragos is suing on behalf of his own business and several clients–naming both Garcetti and Traveler’s Insurance as co-defendants in the lawsuits, each of which has been obtained by Law&Crime.
The high profile attorney is also suing in his individual capacity as a landlord, alleging that he’s “been forced to deal with unpaid rent and other related issues stemming from its tenants’ cessation of use with respect to the Insured Premises.”
While the law firm-specific lawsuit concedes the firm is not itself subject to the mandatory closure order due to its status as an “essential business,” Geragos argues that indirect effects of the countywide lock-down have “greatly limited” access to the firm’s office, which has “suffered immensely.”
“As a further direct and proximate result of the Order, [the law firm] has been forced to deal with a substantial loss in business traffic and client / law related business activities,” one of the filings, all of which are substantially similar, reads.
The lawsuits themselves include Garcetti in order to drive home the point that the mayor’s executive order prohibits access to various buildings owned by Geragos and the law firm, “or at least a significant limitation” on such access in the case of the law firm itself (due to its status as an “essential business”).
“Plaintiff faithfully paid policy premiums to Travelers, specifically to provide additional coverages for ‘Business Income and Extra Expense Coverage’ in the event of business closures by order of Civil Authority,” the complaint. “Under the Policy, insurance is extended to apply to the actual loss of business income sustained and the actual, necessary and reasonable extra expenses incurred when access to the scheduled premises is specifically prohibited by order of Civil Authority.”
Each of the complaints solely requests a declaratory judgment that Garcetti’s order has either created strict prohibitions on such access or has effectively created such a prohibition due to the near-cessation of economic activity in Southern California. Such rulings would trigger the “Civil Authority” portion of various insurance policies purchased and kept up by Geragos and others, which are currently being denied by Traveler’s Insurance.
“Travelers has accepted the policy premiums with no intention of providing any coverage under the Policy’s Civil Authority Coverage Section due to a loss and shutdown from a virus pandemic,” the complaint continues.
In other words, the insurance company is refusing to pay out claims by insisting that the novel Coronavorus (COVID-19) is essentially not covered by the policies that Geragos, his law firm and clients have been paying into for years.
One of the lawsuits explains, at length:
(1) the Order by Garcetti, in his official capacity as Mayor of Los Angeles, constitutes a prohibition of access to Plaintiff’s Insured Premises; (2) the prohibition of access by the Order is specifically prohibited access as defined in the Policy; (3) the Order triggers coverage because the Policy does not include an exclusion for a viral pandemic and actually extends coverage for loss or damage due to physical loss and damage, including by virus; and (4) the Policy provides coverage to Plaintiff for any current and future civil authority closures of commercial buildings in California due to physical loss or damage from the Coronavirus under the Civil Authority coverage parameters and the Policy provides business income coverage in the event that Coronavirus has caused a loss or damage at the insured premises or immediate area of the Insured Premises.
“You pay insurance for decades for precisely the unthinkable and when it happens these insurance companies do the unconscionable,” Geragos said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.
Law&Crime reached out to Garcetti’s office for comment on this story, but no response was forthcoming at the time of publication.
You can read the various complaints below.
[image via ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]